The Cargo Movers, winners of the prestigious title in 2016, won the first two sets but lowered their guard in the next two, allowing the HD Spikers to regroup and stretch the match to a deciding fifth.
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Cargo Movers outlast HD Spikers in Game 1
John Bryan Ulanday (The Philippine Star) - August 25, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — F2 Logistics averted a major meltdown and pulled off a scary 25-22, 26-24, 18-25, 17-25, 15-8 victory over Cignal HD last night and moved on the verge of reclaiming the Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Cargo Movers, winners of the prestigious title in 2016, won the first two sets but lowered their guard in the next two, allowing the HD Spikers to regroup and stretch the match to a deciding fifth.

F2 Logistics got off to strong start in the fifth set, winning the first three points. That gave the Cargo Movers the confidence they needed to pull it off at the start of the best-of-three title series.

Game 2 will be played at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

The HD Spikers, who made it to the finals by beating back-to-back champion Petron twice in the semis, closed in at 5-3 but lost grip of the game, and trailed, 8-4, 11-6 and then 14-7.

A defensive gem against a Rachel Ann Daquis shot sealed the victory for F2, which finished second to Petron the last two years.

“I just reminded them to forget that 2-0 lead and focus on the decider. I’m just happy that we took care of business. We just kept our cool to get away with this win,” said F2 coach Ramil de Jesus.

After two consecutive five-set defeats, Petron finally got the win, squeaking past Foton, 28-26, 25-27, 25-21, 23-25, 15-12, to clinch third place.

Sisi Rondina saved her best for last, leading the Blaze Spikers’ strong finish to tally a game-high 33 points on 30 attacks. 

Aiza Maizo-Pontillas (15), Mika Reyes (11) and Rem Palma (11) provided support for Rondina while Rhea Dimaculangan dished 22 excellent sets to assure the former two-time champion of a highest possible finish.

 after losing their bid for a third straight All-Filipino crown. 

“We have nothing to prove. Everything happens for a reason. It’s an unexpected loss in the semis but we just embraced this challenge. We’re still thankful for this bronze medal. After all our setbacks, it feels like a gold medal. This bronze medal glittered like gold for us,” said head coach Shaq Delos Santos, who coached through an eye allergy which bothered him in the early goings of the match.

“We did not train yesterday. We just rested to prepare for this. We may not have ended up in the finals or as the champion anew but we treated this one as a championship match. We made sure to end this conference with a bang,” added Rondina, this year’s  MVP in the UAAP, who scored five of Petron’s last six points, including match point.

Eager to shrug off their  semis meltdown, the Blaze Spikers opened the match with a bang, edging out the Tornadoes with a 28-26 win in the back-and-forth first set that lasted for 42 minutes. 

With Petron coach Delos Santos having to exit the match temporarily due after nursing an eye allergy midway through the first set, Foton took advantage and proved as a worthy challenger, coming out with an almost identical 27-25 second set triumph that paved the way for another see-saw battle in the next two frames. 

Petron welcomed back Delos Santos in the third set to take 25-21 win before Foton got even with another close 26-24 fourth set victory.

With momentum on its side and the podium finish within reach, the Tornadoes raced to a commanding 9-5 lead before the proven and tested Blaze Spikers rode on Rondina’s hot hand to secure the consolation third place finsih. 

Towering sisters Dindin Santiago-Manabat and Jaja Santiago were on their usual scoring prowess with 26 and 22 markers, respectively, in a losing effort for Foton which missed out a podium finish.

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